Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) views the body as part of the animal kingdom and subject to the rhythms of nature. Whether you believe in evolution or intelligent design, our bodies were developed to interact and be in sync with the natural world. Modern living tends to dramatically filter out nature and its associated rhythms. We modify our environment to fit our comfort with electric lights, A/C and heating, etc., leading to changes in sleep patterns and other lifestyle behaviors that are out of sync with nature. According to TAM, these disruptions in our biorhythms lead to disease.
Beyond acupuncture and herbs, lifestyle recommendations are an integral part of TAM. These guidelines make healthcare personal and empower us to take control of our health and connect us to nature and its rhythms. One way to connect on your own is through exercising according to the seasons. Each season has a particular flow and intensity. You can experience these qualities as you spend time outside.
A New Season
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s hot, humid and sticky outside. It’s wonderful! Summer is in full swing. The energy of summer is warm, exuberant, striving for fullest potential and pushing to the limit. If you have not had the chance to experience nature yet this year and get fresh air due to safety concerns, then now is the time to be outside, feeling the grass under your feet, touching the bark of a tree, gazing at flowers, and watching nature demonstrate what your body is designed to do at this time of year.
How do we embrace the energy of summer with our bodies? One way is through exercise and pushing the body to its fullest potential. Spring was about gentle movement and effort with resolute determination. However, summer is about utilizing the foundation of winter and the preparation of spring to experience our full capacity.
How to Exercise Summer-Style
If you have seen “The Biggest Loser” television show, then you have witnessed summer-style exercising. These folks are hot and sticky, with sweat running down their backs, dripping off their noses, no dry spot on their bodies. They are working hard, giving their all, pushing themselves to the limit, and accomplishing feats that appeared to be impossible. Now is the season to push yourself and reach as far as you can. That being said, the TV contestants have a medical team monitoring them; if you wish to be like them and push yourself to the limit, check with your doctor before you start a new routine to make sure it’s right for you.
There are so many different ways to experience summer-style exercise. Consider everything from biking to running, from hiking to yard work. Many people find joy in pushing themselves in calisthenic workouts (bodyweight exercises such as pushups). Find something that you enjoy, and do it outside. If high noon is too hot and intense, then try a morning or evening workout. Morning workouts are great to energize the body and mind in preparation for the day. Evening workouts are great to decompress after a stressful day.
Whatever your choice, go outside and give it your all!